After his election in 2000, George W. Bush made a big mistake: He didn't clean house of Clinton administration figures. The Senate has confirmed hundreds of President Bush's appointments, but it's Bush's reappointments that have come back to haunt him. While several of the reappointees first served under Republicans, their service in the Clinton administration should have signaled that they would be trouble for Bush.
The latest Bill Clinton appointee and Bush re-appointee to damage the president is Richard Clarke. Clarke was appointed by Clinton in 1998 to become national coordinator for security, infrastructure protection and counter-terrorism. After his election, Bush allowed Clarke to remain at his post until October 2001. When Bush created the new Homeland Security Department, Clarke became the special adviser for cyberspace security.
Dissatisfied with his new position, Clarke resigned in 2003. But that wasn't the end of the line for this disgruntled government worker. Clarke decided to write a book discussing Bush administration anti-terrorism policy. This week, on CBS' "60 Minutes," Clarke pushed his new book by ripping into President Bush, accusing Bush of doing a "terrible job" in the war on terrorism. Clarke also stated that the president asked top advisers to look for an Iraq-Sept. 11 link, despite being told that no such link existed.
Ouch. Clarke's statements will surely be seen for what they are: a desperate attempt to make the New York Times best-seller list and a possible shot at re-entering the bureaucracy in a John Kerry administration. But Clarke only lengthens the list of back-stabbing reappointees.
One of Clarke's close friends is Rand Beers. Beers was appointed first principal deputy assistant secretary of state by Clinton; in 1998, Clinton made Beers assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs. In 2002, Bush appointed Beers to the National Security Council as special assistant to the president for combating terrorism. Beers resigned in June 2003 and took the job of national security adviser for the Kerry campaign.
Joe Wilson, the Bush-bashing former ambassador, was appointed by President Clinton to head African Affairs at the National Security Council. In 2002, the CIA asked Wilson to check intelligence allegations that Saddam Hussein had attempted to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger. Wilson went to Niger, lounged around drinking sweet mint tea and told the CIA -- non-definitively -- that no such deal had taken place.